Farm Ireland

Sunday 21 January 2018

Libya asks for help with food expertise

Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

Approaches from Libya and Lebanon with regard to sourcing high quality food and expertise have been received by the Department of Agriculture over the last number of weeks.

Ireland was the first country the new interim government in Libya sent its agriculture ambassador to, according to Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney, who was speaking at the Macra na Feirme conference in Cork at the weekend.

In addition, the Lebanese government has indicated to Mr Coveney, via the Department of Defence, that it wants to establish a trading post for Irish goods in the Middle East as a way of thanking the Irish troops for their role in peacekeeping there over the past 30 years.

"The Middle East has a huge population that can't grow enough food for themselves," said Mr Coveney. "They've also got a load of money and we want to tap into that."

The minister explained that he was meeting delegations from other countries almost on a weekly basis who were looking to learn from Ireland's expertise in food production.

"In return for sharing information, they are willing to open up new markets," he said.

In September, Mr Coveney led a delegation to Algeria where Irish dairy companies hope to grow their sales even higher than the current level of €35m.

Over the next 12 months, the minister expects to lead other delegations to China, Russia, the USA and the United Arab Emirates.

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Meanwhile, Mr Coveney said that the EU's CAP reform proposals to flatten Single Farm Payments within member states would cause "civil war" here.

"Flattening doesn't work for Ireland and we'll be fighting for flexibility on this issue," he said.

"But at the same time, the idea that we'll hold what we have in relation to the historical payment is not reasonable either," he conceded.

He also said that he had major problems with the greening elements in the CAP reform in relation to 30pc of the budget being ring-fenced for this, a 7pc set-aside requirement and the requirement for permanent pasture.

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